Do you feel you are working harder than ever? Wondering if it’s worth it, if it makes you miserable? Has ‘work’ become the ultimate 4-letter word? It’s got to be better than this, right?
If you are lucky, your employer will offer a variety of perks and benefits to keep you happy in your job. These can range from free food to games rooms up to financial benefits such as bonus schemes, social clubs and events.
But what if a free breakfast on a Friday or a pool table in the staff room is not enough? If we are to spend the majority of our week in a place that makes us miserable with people we can’t stand then we need to find a way to dial up our happiness levels. What should we be looking for in the perfect job?
1. Find a role you enjoy
Everyone has bad days at work. Even the best career will bring days of despair, frustration or even boredom. As the saying goes, find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day. So the trick here is to find that role that really gives you a solid feeling of satisfaction. If you have certain skills and enjoy using them, then to be paid to do something you love will feel extremely fulfilling.
If you are in a role that is becoming tedious or doesn’t spark that feeling of excitement, then look at your hobbies for inspiration. If you can find something that you can enjoy the majority of the time, you’re on to a winner.
2. Feed your lifestyle
For some, work is not about a role that inspires them. Instead it’s just something they do to feed the lifestyle they enjoy outside of work. Maybe the perfect role is one where you finish on time everyday, with every evening and weekend free for other pursuits that make you happy.
If you never have the time to indulge in the activities you love because of unpredictable working patterns or hours, then look for something that’s a little more predictable with a shift pattern that suits your lifestyle.
3. Take charge
Have you made a development plan for yourself? Most things won’t land on your plate all by themselves. Take charge of your own personal development by talking to your manager and volunteering for projects outside of your role.
Your boss does not have a copy of your CV to hand at all times, so it’s very likely they have forgotten about all those skills you were so proud of when you applied for your role. Remind people of your hidden talents and never be afraid to blow your own trumpet.
If you are in a role with limited opportunities, then use platforms such as LinkedIn to maintain relationships and connections. Put yourself in the driving seat and you’ll feel satisfied and in control.
4. Don’t over-commit
Learn to say ‘no’. There are kind and polite ways to let someone down when they are making too many demands on your time. If you take on too much work it leads to feelings of overwhelm, stress and of course makes you feel very unhappy.
Get organised, keep a diary or project tracker and stay on top of your to-do list. When you take on projects, be honest and upfront with your availability so you can manage expectations. Don’t volunteer for projects if you don’t have time to work on them.
5. Distance yourself
We have all worked with miserable, toxic co-workers who manage to suck the joy out of life and wallow in negativity. To be truly happy at work, you must distance yourself from the nasty conversations, gossip and toxic relationships.
The most positive people will soon feel miserable if constantly engulfed in doom and gloom. If you can’t swerve them completely, then learn how to reframe and redirect conversations so you can steer them into a more positive place.
6. Make friends at work
It’s not always healthy or practical to work with your bestie, but you don’t have to keep your work and personal lives completely separate. Try finding a ‘work friend’ so there is someone you can talk to who understands your work life, issues and worries.
You don’t need to work on this friendship outside of work, and may prefer to not be reminded of work in your personal time.
Yup. If you are really miserable, then quit. Being stuck in a permanently toxic atmosphere where you dread the morning alarm each day is not going to do your mental health any good at all. Now might be the time to make a change, have a big chat with your boss or even look for something new.
That perfect job that fits in with your life and makes you happy could be only a click or a call away. Even if you don’t find what you are looking for right away, it will make you happier just knowing that very soon you will find your next big adventure.